Torah Portion Highlights – Exodus / Leviticus




Vayakhel – And Assembled 

In English translation, Vayak’hel is rendered: “and (Moses) assembled (or gathered).” From the Hebrew root (k,h,l), the word kahal is derived, meaning congregation or gathering. The calling of an assembly usually is for an important purpose, and this was no exception. The Lord had given Moses specific words of instruction for the people and they now gathered to pay close attention. All the materials were needed before building could commence, and Moses gave the people of Israel the opportunity to contribute whatever they could in goods and service as “an offering to the Lord.” They would need a “willing and generous heart” to give what was needed. After Moses dismissed them, we can imagine he waited in eager anticipation to see how they would react. How do we react to a call from the Lord? Do we respond with willing and generous hearts?

Pekudei – Accounts

The Hebrew word Pekudei means ‘accounts’ or inventory. As we read the account of the Tabernacle and its construction we are struck by the accounting that is made. Obviously, details are important to God! All we have, including our life, is from our Father and we will need to give an account when we return it to Him. Yeshua illustrated this principle clearly in the parable of the ‘talents’ (Matt. 25:14-30). We read of the master that “…he settled accounts!” May He find us to be faithful and responsible servants.

This marks the conclusion of the book of Exodus / Shemot.

Chazak, chazak ve’nitchazek!

Be strong, be strong, and may we continue to strengthen one another in our study and understanding of His Holy Word.

Olive Branch


Leviticus or Vayikra is the shortest of the five books and is set in the center, at the heart as it were, of the Torah. It is poised between the revelation of God at Sinai, which culminates in the construction of His Tabernacle, and the subsequent wanderings in the wilderness. The opening portion, or parasha, includes the system of sacrificial offerings (korbanot). Why does God need sacrifices at all? One answer can be found in the Hebrew word itself. Korban is derived from the root word karav – to come close or draw near. The offering of the korban is then an act that allows one to draw closer to God. The heart of korban is teshuvah – repentance, which literally means to return – to restore something to its proper place. Selah! (Pause and think about that!)

Tzav – Command    

The name Tzav is related to the word mitzvah, commandment (plural mitzvot). Traditionally, God gave 613 commandments in the Torah. Of these, 248 are positive (things to do) and 365 are negative (things not to do). Interestingly, they correspond to the 248 bones and the 365 muscles of the human body – indicating that one should obey the commandments with all of one’s might!  It is physically impossible, however, for one person to obey all the 613 commands, as some apply only to priests, others only to men or to women, and some can be obeyed only when living in the Land of Israel. This reminds us that a whole people, working together as one Body, is required to perfectly fulfil the commands and directions of God that bring peace and life. The outworking of God’s Kingdom on earth was never intended to be a one-man operation.

When Jewish boys reach the age of 13, and girls the age of 12, they celebrate their Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah respectively (literally: Son, or Daughter, of the Commandment). The ceremony marks a significant threshold of life and, with joy and honor, announces that they have reached the age of personal accountability for their deeds and spiritual growth. Living a life imbued with Torah, the teachings of God, and of mitzvot, doing what He commands in loving, joyful obedience, is considered in Judaism the most rewarding and fulfilling life  – a life filled with His blessing.

In the Brit Chadasha (New or Renewed Covenant). Yeshua says: “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love… My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:10-12).  He condenses all God’s commands into the one, which is to be the foundation for them all.

© Keren Hannah Pryor –

Based on ‘A Taste of Torah‘ by Keren Hannah – available at

Artwork: Yoram Raanan,

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